Twin Temple: L.A.’s Favorite Satanists Release Debut LP on Friday the 13th
While we’re used to pentagrams being monopolized by black metal bands, Twin Temple offers something different. Their self-titled debut LP pays homage to not only late-1950’s sound, but its recording techniques as well. Opposing modern industry standards, the album was cut live in only two days and mixed in mono. The result is a raw, unfettered body of work that celebrates equality, personal freedom, and unrepentant femininity during a time when the political war between the sexes has gone nuclear.
I’ve been to several Twin Temple shows around L.A., and husband and wife duo, Alexandra and Zachary James, have been making waves—haunting audiences with their Hellbound theatrics and roots rock, backed by a swinging band of brass, keys, skins, and sultry backup singers.
A recent profile in the L.A. Times gave them national attention, eliciting throwback Satanic Panic responses from the likes of Alex Jones and other alarmist pundits. However amusing the tongue-in-cheek provocation (or, to some, scary), it isn’t Twin Temple’s high point. Beyond the hellish flair is a melodic and poetic elegance underpinning these 10 catchy songs that’ll possess you for days.
As Zachary channels Ritchie Valens on the guitar, Alexandra’s soaring vocals carry you, high and low, throughout the album. She’s a true Winehouse crooner—but if Winehouse drank blood instead of booze and sang love odes to Lucifer himself.
How did this Satanic doo-wop sound manifest?
We’ve always been enamored with classic American music, in particular rock ‘n’ roll. Our sound is a reflection of the music we adore. We also are Satanists, practice magick, and are avid students of the Occult. In particular, we gravitate towards the Antinomianism of the Left Hand Path, which to us is essentially defined by transgression, individualism, and a rejection of societal norms. Both Satanism and rock ‘n’ roll, in our minds, are united by this philosophy. Satanic Doo-Wop is our unique and paradoxical vehicle to express all aspects of our Selves. The side that loves the oldies, and the side that Hails Satan!
What does Satanism bring to the current feminist convo?
Both Satanism and feminism share the same aim: a liberation and exaltation of the Self in all its multitudinous facets, a rejection of limiting societal dogma, and the fundamental right for every individual to execute their True Will. Simply put: freedom. Satanism is another way of expressing this fundamental human desire.
How does your brand of Satanism differ from the contemporary Church of Satan or the Satanic Temple?
We respect and are inspired by both the CoS and the TST. We feel we share the above mentioned fundamental spirit of inquiry, rational humanism, and rejection of stagnant social norms. The primary difference is that we are a band; our views are expressed through our music and live performances.
Most people assume Satan/Lucifer to be a masculine deity, like God. Is this accurate?
Satan, the mythological figure from Christianity as we know “him” today, originated as a masculine deity, as the Abrahamic traditions are fundamentally patriarchal in nature. So, within that context, it would be accurate. However, we are using Satan as an archetype; one that represents individualism, transgression, self-empowerment and liberation. We don’t worship or believe in the physical or actual “Satan” from Christian mythology—i.e. a dude with red face paint somewhere in the mythical realm of Hell, responsible for all society’s ills. So, in that sense, Satan is completely genderless. One of our exalted symbols is that of Baphomet; whom has both breasts and a penis. This represents synthesis, and a transcendence of limiting binary modes of thinking, such as “male/female.” We don’t believe in the dual gender system; we believe gender is fluid. The ultimate goal for a black adept is to recognize and incorporate all aspects of their Self—both masculine, and feminine.
Why the illicit album cover? Have you run into any censorship?
We believe the body is to be exalted, as it is part of our earthly human existence. And yes—our album cover does indeed feature a nipple upon the breast of a woman. But to us, the breast represents a symbol of divine femininity; of creation. We believe women should be allowed to bare their breasts should they so please. Whether breastfeeding a child or otherwise! Female nipples are nothing to be “ashamed of” or hidden away. We find it hypocritical, ignorant, and sexist to treat a female nipple as something criminal, while male nipples roam free! Our choice to include this symbol on our album cover is a reflection of these beliefs.
We did run into many, many issues. We expected that. Multiple print houses refused to work with us and we struggled to find a company to distribute the uncensored album cover. But we refused to back down and eventually found like-minded companies to work with. Ultimately the cover survived in all its resplendent, nipple-filled glory. Praise be to Babalon!
Does your songwriting process come out of rituals or spells?
Our band was born out of a destruction ritual on Samhain. And yes, we practice magick and have cast spells in order to empower our craft. A deal with the Devil if you will...
The track “I’m Wicked” struck me, particularly the lyrics: “I’m wicked, black magick/ I’m evil, satanic/ I’m a woman and I’ve got you under my spell...” The bold embrace of sin is pretty rousing. How does this speak to our culture’s notion of woman as inherently corrupt, seductive (i.e. succubus), the reason humanity fell from grace and was ousted from the Garden of Eden?
We would say “I’m Wicked” serves as an anthem of rebellion; one that seeks to subvert culture’s boring and oppressive notions of women’s roles.
The entrenched cultural idea that women are the source of “wickedness” in the world is rooted in the Abrahamic creation myth of Adam and Eve. This pervasive patriarchal fairytale forms the basis of our societal understanding of gender and morality. It has widely been used to justify and advocate male supremacy, both historically and within contemporary thought. Thus, it’s a crucial allegory to subvert. The epithet of a “Witch” or a “Devil Worshipper” has long been used as a method to systematically oppress women and other marginalized groups.
We seek to exalt and celebrate the archetype of the unholy Demoness, of the “wicked” woman who seeks the serpent, the Whore of Babalon who takes pleasure in carnality, in bleeding under the full moon, who destroys all that stands in her way. We don the vestments of that which is feared and reviled in order to transform and empower our Selves. “I’m Wicked” is for anyone who is fierce and powerful, empowered and autonomous, ruthless and vulnerable.
TO ORDER THE ALBUM (VINYL/CD/DIGI), VISIT: TWINTEMPLE.COM
Written by Brent Smith